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Having Babies Sit Up May Help Them Learn

MONDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Babies may learn better when they're sitting up, a new study suggests.

"An important part of human cognitive development is the ability to understand whether an object in view is the same or different from an object seen earlier," Rebecca Woods, an assistant professor of human development and family science and doctoral psychology lecturer at North Dakota State University, said in a university news release.

"Cognitive development" refers to abilities like thinking, perception and memory.

She and colleague Teresa Wilcox, a psychology professor at Texas A&M University, found that infants at ages 5.5 or 6.5 months don't use patterns to differentiate objects on their own. But 6.5-month-olds can be primed to use patterns if they get a chance to look at and touch objects.

"An advantage the 6-and-a-half-month-olds may have is the ability to sit unsupported, which makes it easier for babies to reach for, grasp and manipulate objects. If babies don't have to focus on balancing, their attention can be on exploring the object," Woods explained.

The researchers also found that when 5.5-month-olds were given support to help them sit up, they were able to use patterns to differentiate objects.

The findings suggest that delayed sitting may cause babies to miss learning opportunities that affect other areas of intellectual development.

"Helping a baby sit up in a secure, well-supported manner during learning sessions may help them in a wide variety of learning situations, not just during object-feature learning," Woods said. "This knowledge can be advantageous, particularly to infants who have cognitive delays who truly need an optimal learning environment."

The study was recently published in the journal Developmental Psychology.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about child growth and development.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: North Dakota State University, news release, Dec. 11, 2012

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